March 25, 1992

Despite glaring loopholes revealed by the Iraq experience in international efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology, the Bush administration is balking at congressional efforts to toughen U.S. export regulations.

The White House is so fearful this would interfere with peaceful development of nuclear power, a field with vast U.S. export potential, that it seems willing to risk having key components in weapons production fall into irresponsible hands.

This newspaper has long supported carefully safeguarded development of nuclear power plants in the United States, such as the Calvert Cliffs operation of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company. But we find it perverse that the administration should try to block sensible moves in Congress, backed by Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, that might prevent another Iraq or another North Korea from raising a belligerent nuclear threat.

President Bush should get involved personally. He should order his congressional liaison officials to work out a sensible compromise rather than try to kill the proposed Title III of an extension of the Export Administration Act.

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